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Q. I have a small Bible, also known as the Daniel's Miniature Bible, published in 1648. It is in its original binding, which is in fairly good condition. The leather is a bit rubbed on the corners, but this is to be expected with a book of this age. What can you tell me about this book?—Franz, Australia
A. You have a nice pocket-sized Bible printed by Roger Daniel in Cambridge, England. There are at least five variants of this edition. To determine which one you have will require careful consultation of one of the great Bible bibliographies, like T. H. Darlow and H. E. Moule’s Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society or A. S. Herbert’s revised edition focusing on English-language Bibles, Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525–1961.
Pendlebury’s Bookshop in London, one of the leading specialists in theological books, has a very nice copy of this edition in an attractive binding for about $750.
Signed vs. Inscribed
Q. I ordered a recently published book from a fairly well known author. The shop asked if I wanted the book inscribed to me. Would an inscription this increase the value of the book? Or should I just ask for the author’s autograph?—BL
A. If your primary interest is the future value of the book, ask for only the author’s signature. If the book signing is happening when the book is brand new, have the author put the date. Books signed close to their publication date are typically more desirable than books signed years after the fact. For future provenance, you might want to put something from the store inside the book, documenting the signing.
If you are giving the book as a gift, it’s much nicer to have it signed to the recipient. If the author is someone you admire, on a personal level it’s usually nicer to have the book inscribed to you. Most people get more pleasure from that even if the resale value isn’t as high. About the only time a book is worth more inscribed (vs. simply signed) is when it is inscribed to a family member of the author, another writer, or someone famous. Books with those kinds of inscriptions are called “association copies.”
One final point: When you are thinking about resale value, make sure the book is a first edition. If it’s not a first printing, the rest will hardly matter.
P.S. In a previous Avid Collector, we addressed the question of having author’s sign bookplates.
—Ed Smith, Ed Smith Books, Bainbridge Island, Washington, U.S.A.
Q. I have the 30-volume set, The Bibliophile Library of Literature, Art and Rare Manuscripts, published in 1904 by the International Bibliophile Society. It was limited to 1000 sets, of which this set is copy No. 823. The books are in good condition. Can you tell me anything about them?—Laurel
A. This set is well known, and the Bibliophile Society printed a number of well respected and scholarly editions and sets during this period. In fact, sets of all kinds were extremely popular around the turn of the twentieth century. As with most sets, these were issued in a couple of different bindings—green cloth and red leather. As for value, condition is everything. Nice copies of the complete set start at $120.
—Ian Kahn, Lux Mentis Booksellers, Portland, Maine, U.S.A.
Q. I have a New Testament printed in 1608 by Robert Barker, bound with The First Alphabet of Directions, The Second Alphabet of Directions, and The Whole Booke of Psalmes, dated 1609. Is it usual that these books would be bound together like this? I had the volume rebound about 30 years ago. How does that affect value?—Paul
A. It sounds like you have the New Testament, printed by Robert Barker, the official printer for King James. Three years after your New Testament was printed, Barker printed for the first time a new translation authorized by the monarch and now known as the King James Version. The translation you have is called the Bishops’ Bible, which was the official translation of the Church of England until the King James Version replaced it.
Seventeenth century Bibles were often bound with other related books. Your two “alphabets” are what we now call concordances. The Book of Psalms is a special version for use in church services. According to an early edition of the text, it was “collected into English metre…to be sung in all churches.”
Your edition of the New Testament is quite scarce, perhaps because it was made obsolete three years later by the King James Version. No copies have sold at auction in recent history, and I was only able to locate five copies in libraries. Due to its scarcity, the book was probably worth rebinding, which will help protect it for years to come. Collectors prefer books in their original bindings, but when a book has survived centuries of use, a tasteful, new binding will make most books more desirable.
—Scott Brown, editor of Fine Books & Collections magazine
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